I’m supposed to post another essay about 21st century black womanhood, but I’m still irritated by Beyonce’s performance of “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.” I’m irritated that Ledisi wasn’t on that stage, doing her own, haunting rendition, which still gives me chills.
I’m irritated that there are a bunch of articles saying that Beyonce was amazing. Just because a black woman can sing, and sing well, doesn’t mean she can saaaang like she’s in church. I’m irritated these people didn’t better acquaint themselves with Mahalia Jackson or Aretha Franklin or Shirley Caesar.
I’m irritated that people attempt to appropriate the black church and throw it on top of everything. The black church is not bacon. You cannot just take a tambourine, and take a black person, give them a mic, and think you’re in church.
And I’m TIRED of black people being called in to get everybody hype. Black artists do all the hard work of bringing a great show and energy, without any formal recognition for it. Beyonce’s Drunk in Love was good, but the thoughtfulness and hard work she put into her album, not to mention the sales, deserved better attention.
And, since I’m complaining, I’m irritated that Ava Duvernay wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award as Best Director for Selma.
Is it me, or does 21st century black power seem limited? Yes, we can buy records, and we can go to the movies, but we aren’t really on the awards boards, voting. And our stories are rarely awarded because those voting have no context to understand the narrative presented to them. It is so much easier to see beauty in something familiar. The stories which use, recycle, or update trite stereotypes are praised, but ones that attempt to break those stereotypes don’t get shine.
Don’t get me wrong: the NAACP Awards is great. It is so necessary to value the art that reflects the experiences of African Americans and other black people in the USA. But no one ever grows up thinking, “I want one of those.” They grow up thinking, “I want an Oscar. I want a Golden Globe. I want a Grammy.”
We’re still on the outside, folks. Except for Beyonce. She’s on the inside, singing to all the folks who have never, ever heard a real gospel song.